Inside Sales, Telesales, Telemarketing: What’s the difference?


At first glance, telemarketing, telesales and inside sales might seem similar. They all use the telephone as a primary means of prospecting instead of face-to-face meetings. But beyond that, the similarities end. 

Changes in buyer behaviour and the development of new technologies have transformed the marketing and sales landscape dramatically. These rapid changes to the environment have forced the more traditional channels to evolve to keep up. But the perception of these traditional channels has not necessarily kept up with the evolution of them. 

As a result of this, companies have been using different terms for the same service/channel to try and “modernise” the service offering and set themselves apart of the “old”. But these services are still built on the same principles as they were 20 years ago. And in some case, they work better for it. 

In this article, we are going to look at the differences between Telemarketing, Telesales and Inside Sales. We are also going to look at how telemarketing has evolved in recent years. 


What is Telemarketing?

Telemarketing is simply another marketing channel, just like email marketing or social media marketing. The prefix, tele, simply implies any marketing activities that use the phone would be a form of telemarketing. 

Telemarketing can be used for a whole plethora of different marketing drives, just like any other channel. Anything from market research, customer nurturing, prospecting and more! But just like you would with your email marketing, telemarketing needs to be utilised strategically. Telemarketing is very powerful on its own, but it is far more effective when used in a multi-channel capacity. 

That is the definition. But the perception of telemarketing is very different. Telemarketing is often associated with spam calls and fraudulent calling. Hence why telemarketing company have started to utilise alternative naming for the service. 


What is Telesales?

Again, if we look at the specific words used here: tele being the phone and sales being the activity of generating and closing new business, then we have a textbook definition. Telesales is the art of selling and winning new business via the phone. Honestly, it is as simple as that. 

However, just like telemarketing, telesales also has perception issues. It is associated with aggressive and high-volume calling. Which is not the case when handled by a professional telesales company. 

Just like every other marketing and sales medium, telesales needs to be used strategically. If done properly you can use telesales to cross- and up-sell to existing customers, reach out to new prospects, promote new product launches, and even run account-based selling campaigns. 


What is Inside Sales?

Inside Sales is all about creating a conversation and relationship with prospects, as such these calls are usually unscripted. Often involving multiple interactions with a prospect as the sales is normally more complex. These types of opportunities usually target Business-to-business(B2B) or high-end B2C transactions. 

You might have noticed I said multiple interactions instead of calls when talking about Inside Sales. That is because Inside Sales utilises more communications channels than just the phone. Professional Inside Sales Representatives (reps) will use a mixture of social media, email, and the phone to find and communicate with prospects. Telemarketers and Telesales reps, however, will only use the phone. 


Telemarketing’s Evolution into Inside Sales

The 1970-1980s

‘Back in the day’… Sometime between the 1970-80’s the Bell Telephone Company, now known as AT&T, coined the term “Telemarketing”. Telemarketing became a modern approach. It reduced costs, increased sales, and massively outperformed almost all other marketing and sales tactics available. Why? Because the alternative approach was Outside Sales, we are doing a blog on this soon. Telemarketing allowed companies to set strict targets and reduced the need for door-to-door salespeople. Telemarketing in the ’70s and ’80s looked very different than it does today. Most companies utilise the phone directory and yellow pages to find new targets. And because there was no proper strategy to their approach, there was next to no continuity between calls. With little technology to support telemarketing campaigns, operators would have to spend most of their time finding new prospects manually. This means most operators could only make about 100 calls a day. 

The 1990s

Fast forward a decade to the ’90s. More people had phones and with the introduction of new technologies, telemarketers could not only run auto-dial campaigns, but they could also build databases to target specific prospects. This allowed telemarketers to call over 300-400 people per day. Which is a lot of people. So many that most companies did not target their campaigns effectively. This era of telemarketing is well known for its scattergun approach to mass-marketing where the focus was on quantity over quality. Ultimately this is the era that gave telemarketing its bad reputation. 

The 2000s

Let us jump another decade into the ’00s. Here in the UK, in 1999 a new system and legislation were passed. This ultimately created what we now know as the CTPS or TPS. CTPS stands for Corporate Telephone Preference System and TPS stands for Telephone Preference System. These systems allowed people (TPS) and companies (CTPS) to register their number to prevent telemarketers from calling them. Any telemarketing companies found not following this register would be heavily penalised. This pretty much shut down all the mass spam telemarketing operations here in the UK. Because of the government intervention, legitimate telemarketers needed to evolve their approach, and quickly. This leads us into what we have today. 


Modern telemarketers utilise a mixture of social media, email, modernised databases, CRM integrations and marketing automation to fulfil their campaigns goalsIt is quite common for a company to even run an element of a telemarketing campaign, without even realising it. Whether you are answering customer calls, ringing new prospects after spending some time researching or even use a live chat on your mobile, these all fall apart of a modern telemarketing approachBecause of this expanded approach, the term Telemarketing no longer covers everything that these operations do and offer. As such a new term has been coined, Inside Sales. 

Got a question? Feel free to ask our specialist team via the live chat! 

Joe Green

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